Now that Apple’s AirPods are finally out, a lot of people are wondering what alternatives are there? Maybe you’re looking for a pair of buds that are actually in-ear or something more compatible with your devices. Sol Republic, a brand known for their bold designs and high quality headphones, has released their very own pair of “Airs”, the Amps Air. Amps Air is a wireless pair of earbuds that feature built-in dual microphones, built-in audio controls, sweat and water resistance, and up to 45 hours of play with the included charging case!
You can always count on Sol Republic for unique high quality design and engineering. The buds themselves are not the most minimalistic we’ve seen, but they’re far from large. They look like regular earbuds with large end caps. When inserted in your ears, they basically fall flush with the outside of your ear; there’s not much that sticks out. The ends caps are SOL Icons that are also discreet buttons. They have an ergonomic build and a “design to be noticed,” with models that come in rose gold on black, rich teal, deep blue, and jet black. The buds are designed to not fall out, and they don’t require or include ear hooks or specialty pieces to stay in.
Charging Case and Battery
Batteries on wireless headphones like these are notoriously bad, however Amps Air happens to be pretty solid. You’ll get up to about 3 hours in one shot, but the charging case delivers a very impressive 45 hours of playtime. How’s this possible? The charging case has a built-in 2200 mAh battery, which can also be used as a phone charger. The case has a full sized USB port discreetly built under a side flap. The charging case charges with a standard micro-USB port.
The Charging Case is a really beautifully machined piece of metal. It has a clam shell design with a magnetic seal. Inside the shell are two fitted slots sized for each earbud. The ear buds snap in magnetically and each have an LED to indicate they’re properly housed and charging. The case also has LEDs of its own that display remaining battery power. They display by giving the case a light shake.
Since the charging case contains a big battery, it happens to be pretty hefty. Any bigger or heavier, and you wouldn’t want it in your pocket. Its smooth design makes it pretty nice to slip in and out of your pocket and it can fend for itself floating around a bag or backpack.
The big question around all wireless buds is: what if they fall out? This is a real concern. These buds do a pretty good job of staying in, but it’s very possible for them to fall out. There’s no earhook or anything to keep them situated. They’re definitely not going to fall out while you’re stationary or casually moving around home or the office. If you’re on the move you’ll find yourself pushing them in, almost nervously, every now and then. During exercise it depends on the fit and your ears, we just had to push them in every now and then, and it was fine. Since they’re not perfectly round and have a bit of weight, you shouldn’t have a problem finding them if they fall out.
You may find that they stay in better than regular earbuds since there’s no cord to weigh them down or wiggle them out of place. But, in that same vein, the lack of cord might have you a little more nervous about losing a bud. The cord is a safety net. The buds happen to be really comfortable, especially without the cord dangling.
One of the best features of these headphones is the ease of use. After the one time pairing, you never have to deal with on/off buttons. Remove your headphones from the charging case and they’re on and pairing. Put them back in the charging case and they’re off and charging. You can press and hold the headphone button for a few seconds to achieve the same outcome, but there’s no point if the charging case is around.
Each headphone can be used as a mono listening device. This can require a second pairing process. The headphones each have a built-in microphone and take phone calls really nicely. The microphone works as well as Apple’s inline mic on their headphones. The speaker for voice calls only plays out of one ear, which is supposed to sound more natural.
There’s a built-in button on each bud. They both play and pause the music, which is a really convenient feature. It can also answer and end phone calls. A short button hold activates your phone’s voice command feature, like Siri. You can’t skip tracks with the buttons, but you can technically have Siri do it for you.
As always with headphones, a good in-ear seal is important, especially for optimal sound quality. There are several different ear tips included. We found the noise isolation with Amps Air to be terrific. A lot of ambient noise gets eliminated without the need for noise cancellation technology. The actual quality, we felt, is subpar. They sound good, not great. The bass is probably the best aspect, it sounds pretty natural and boomy. The mid-range audio lacks a clean and clear sound, and the highs can get sort of tinny. They’re well balanced, but they don’t sound especially high quality. These audio qualities are more noticeable from quieter and more vocal-heavy music. We recently reviewed Sol Republic’s Relays Sports Wireless, and they had the exact high fidelity audio experience we were hoping for.
Read on for the verdict…